HAMMR Time: Microscale 3D Printing Helps Swimming Microrobots Break Records

Purdue University researchers created speedy swimming robots — the width of a human hair with the ability to travel at 2 millimeters per second — using microscale 3D printing. The microrobots include a hard magnetic head and a soft hydrogel tail in a helix shape — mimicking the swimming behavior seen in sperm and other biological phenomena. Watch this video to learn more about what the team calls the Helical Adaptive Multi-material MicroRobot (HAMMR).

“We’ve been working on mobile microrobots for about 10 to 15 years – how to design them, how to make them, and how to control them, and ultimately how to use them,” said David Cappelleri , Professor of Mechanical Engineering. “Because these robots are very small, we can’t attach a battery or any other kind of internal power source. So we power them externally, using magnetic fields.”